Ron Woodroof’s family helped Matthew McConaughey to reveal the true story of courage that inspired actor’s breathtaking transformation in new movie The Dallas Buyers Club.
Sharon Woodroof Braden, 70, and Yvette Carroll, 42, have had years to try to come to terms with the agony of losing Ron Woodroof – Sharon’s brother and Yvette’s father to AIDS.
But Matthew McConaughey’s astonishing physical transformation to tell Ron Woodroof’s courageous story in The Dallas Buyers Club means they will soon see his brave battle relived on the big screen.
These exclusive photos of Ron Woodroof, who is described as a heterosexual, homophobic electrician, as he fought the disease show just what a remarkable resemblance Matthew McConaughey has achieved for his portrayal.
Speaking from her home in Como, Texas, Sharon Woodroof Braden said: “It’s very hard to see. I don’t go on the internet.
“It’s hard to look back whenever you’ve lived through it; it’s really hard to look back at something like that. So I don’t look at the pictures that much.
“The pictures of Matthew are breathtaking though. They look so like what Ronnie looked like when he was sick and how the disease progressed.
“Matthew is definitely looking like he’s gone down that path. His eyes, that is the main thing, the way he is doing his eyes.
“I’m not looking at his body as much as his face and his face certainly taken on the look of someone with AIDS. Matthew is so in character it is unreal.”
Ron Woodroof – who Sharon and Yvette affectionately call Ronnie – was an extraordinary character who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and given just six months to live.
Instead of accepting the death sentence, Ron Woodroof studied the disease
and its effects on the body, and created a business sourcing and smuggling non-FDA approved medication, experimental and alternative drugs for AIDS patients.
His determination and tenacity enabled him to live for six more years – during which time he pushed legislation through the courts, promoted awareness of the disease and helped countless other AIDS patients in the process.
“I remember he was the best-looking man I’d ever seen, even when I was little,” his daughter Yvette Carroll has said.
But that appeal all changed when he got sick, as Yvette Carroll said: “It was awful to see him like that. I couldn’t handle it, even at 21 years old.”
Over the years, several A-List stars have had their names attached to play the role of Ron Woodroof in the film – including Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling.
Sharon Woodroof Braden said: “They wanted Brad Pitt to play him and I thought <<No, that isn’t going to work because I didn’t think Brad Pitt had the personality>>.
“They talked about Ryan Gosling and I thought the same thing.
“I like Ryan Gosling but I didn’t think his personality was the right personality.
“Then a year ago they mentioned Matthew McConaughey and I thought, <<Ok … yes!>>
“He’s got that same swagger that Ron had. I’m excited because Matthew is from Texas. I really think he has that personality where he can do what needs to be done.”
Sharon Woodroof Braden says the way Matthew McConaughey has gone about losing weight to transform into Ron is another characteristic they shared – determination.
The actor has dropped more than 40 pounds for the role leading to criticism that he was risking his health by extreme dieting, though he insisted he was going it the safe and healthy way.
“I feel fine. I really do. I got the means to lose the weight in a really healthy way. I’m eating fresh fish. I’m just eating small amounts. I’m not being starved… I’m taking care of myself,” he told The Daily Beast.
Of his shocking weight loss Sharon Woodroof Braden said: “I hate that he’s having to do this, I really do. I wish there was another way for him to do it, but that is just another trait – determination – Matthew does to portray someone dying of AIDS.
“It isn’t pretty in real life and it won’t be pretty on the big screen. I think he will get an Oscar for this role.”
Sharon Woodroof Braden says that things weren’t always easy between her and Ron when he was alive. He was a drug user and had many girlfriends – leaving his family unclear exactly how he contracted HIV.
“I will say this, I love Ronnie and always have – and I miss him with all my heart – but I know where he is and I know where my cars are now!
“But he was one wonderful and unique individual; I didn’t realize how unique he was until he got sick. But he was my brother and down underneath we both loved each other a lot.”